It’s Not Easy To Be Me

I was looking through old posts, intending to do a blast from the past — it was one of those nights in which I engaged in massive unarmed combat with the bed clothes.  No, I don’t know why.  I know things HURT — and I came across a post where I talked back to the Five For Fighting Song, Superman.

This is something I do if caught in the grocery store and exposed to stupid songs.  Like, you know, Imagine.  “Imagine you could think beyond conventional leftist utopia, wouldn’t that be great?”

No, the neighbors haven’t had me committed yet, but that’s because we’ve been living downtown and I used to go to the store in whatever I was wearing for writing, (not pajamas.  I draw the line at pajamas) so they probably thought I was homeless and were afraid I’d kill them.

So, Superman.  It annoys me because “it’s not easy to be me” is a twelve year old’s attitude.  We’ve all been there.  We get everything handed to us, more or less (okay some of us less than others, but still by and large things that twelve year olds don’t have to worry about in the first world include keeping a roof over their head, food on the table and clothes that cover your behind.)  So you worry about other things: the fact you don’t fit in.  The fact someone looked at you funny.  The fact that your growing body doesn’t obey your commands as it should, so you’re clumsy and a little odd.

If you’re one of the blessed children who is graceful and popular or at least if your parents have enough money and lack of sense to put you in a place where they praise everything you do to the heavens, you’ll still worry, because some girl got the attention of the boy you liked.  Because some boy looked at you wrong.

It gets smaller and smaller, but you’ll still find causes for worry.  Microaggressions, if you will.

This is because as an adolescent you have neither the emotional apparatus nor the life experience to see that you are not special, that man is a worrying animal and that nothing in life is perfect.  You are just a kid trying to fit in, and all your experiences and all your knowledge is self-referent.  It looks like the rest of humanity knows where they belong and what they’re doing and you’re odd man out.  Hence the lament “It’s not easy being me.”

Then you get a little better at doing the everyday things, and you sort of wake up and look around.  And sometimes life smacks you in the face with a wet fish, and you realize your parents have been trying to keep the family together and a roof over your head while the regime of the day has frozen ALL their assets including their checking account, and your brother, whom you’re used to considering one of the blessed children because he always was a straight A student and had a group of friends from childhood, has been tutoring all his free time from his college classes and turning the money over to mom without a complaint so she can buy food for the table.  And here you’ve been resenting that it’s fish everyday because you hate fish; and you have been upset you don’t get money to buy a croissant at mid-morning, which excludes you from the cool kids trip to the coffee shop.

Suddenly you realize it’s not easy being you, but oh, my heavens, it’s much harder to be everyone else.

And you grow a bit more and realize your dad gave up his dream of becoming an artist for a career that he didn’t like because he had a family to support.  And you realize how well your mom does what she does considering what she battles every day.

And you start seeing all the times they didn’t tell you they were too tight on money, but gave you the price of a movie, because they wanted you to be happy.  And all the times they went without something near-essential so you could have something nice.

And then, somewhere along the line, you realize that all the grace and favors received come with an obligation.  That it’s up to you to do something nice for THEM, to bring unexpected joy to their lives, because they work so hard and they love you.  And the same with your friends.  Instead of worrying that you are having such a hard time, you notice your friend broke with her boyfriend and is trying to be brave, but depressed, and you blow all the money you made that month on tutoring to take her out to a movie about dance and dinner and to be silly and walk in the rain like you did when you were little.

Congratulations.  You’ve found the key to adulthood and arguably to happiness — when you stop obsessing over your own wrongs and difficulties and start trying to make others’ lives easier.

It’s still not easy.  And yeah, you’ll still have times when you feel sorry for yourself.  Or if you know you have the tendency to feel sorry for yourself, and overcompensate, you can “be an unintentional suicide” which means you don’t go to the doctor when you should, because you’re concentrating so much on your family, and when you do it’s too late.  Arguably my friend Alan died from that.

But you realize it’s not easy for anyone.  We don’t live in an earthly paradise where every tear shall be wiped away.  The most blessed of us will lose friends and pets and family to death.  The most blessed of us will get ill now and then and not feel so good.  The most blessed of us will have something they fight against, some sense of inferiority and loss.

That is why almost all major religions hold out the promise of a paradise where that won’t happen.  Where due to a transformational event, you won’t suffer from the human condition.

Anyway, remembering that song, and the thoughts that went with it, reminded me of a note a friend sent to me last night “Incoming president of MWA says that it’s very hard for minorities to make it in writing.”

Well… yes, it is.

It is very hard for ANYONE to make it in writing. Frankly, the fact I could tan and was darker than spun gold before a life indoors and age robbed me of some of my melanin (could be worse.  My husband now tends to look paper-white.) had far less to do with how difficult it was than knowing NO ONE in a field that was clannish and closed.  I mean, I didn’t even know organized fandom existed.  I didn’t know about going to conventions and meeting editors.  For the love of bugs, I didn’t know where to mail stories so I sent them to the publishing address.

But even that — even in a field where they look at you with suspicion if you come out of nowhere — was relatively little impairment, compared to struggling with the writing itself.

Because we use words every day we don’t realize how hard writing is.  Words are not the craft of the writer.  Emotions are.  I am editing a book written while in indifferent health and I swear I made EVERY POSSIBLE ROOKIE mistake, which means I have to back engineer the book with what I know.  It’s hard, but it also shows how much I learned.

And like all human animals, you only learn when not learning becomes too painful.  So I’m measuring every step I took along the way: making the books accessible; making the characters interesting; making it internally consistent; worldbuilding.  Etc. ad nauseum.

Even in the present age when you can publish yourself, capturing an audience is hard and will require not just skull sweat but the awareness you’re not as good as other people.

The worst thing we can do for beginners is teach them that the sense of inferiority and of being held out they have is attributable to anything other than their own lack of craft and experience (and the occasional lack of kiss from lady luck which can only be compensated for by writing a lot — ie. buying more lottery tickets.)

Tell the twelve year old that he has the hardest lot in life possible and that everyone else should cater to him, and he’ll never realize what other people are struggling with: he’ll never emerge from his cocoon of self obsession and resentment.

Tell the beginning writer that the reason their “masterpieces” aren’t received with glad cries is their sex/preference/color and they will latch on to that.  It’s easier to resent than to admit your work has flaws.  And it’s easier to scream in affront than to work at fixing those flaws.

And then you go through life inventing conspiracies against you and screaming micro aggression and you never become the writer you could be.

And that — that truly — is an injustice done to you.  But you’ll never know.

Your wings have been clipped, but all you’ll know is you sit in your soiled nest talking about how someone else is holding you down and you’re perfect the way you are.

It’s not easy being you — but the potential great books never written cry out against those who tried to make it easy on you and succeeded only in infantilizing you and crippling you.

You imagine everyone else had it easier.  You don’t see the years of struggle and lonely, painful failure.  So every little stumble makes you more bitter and more determined to never change.

And the field is poorer.

265 thoughts on “It’s Not Easy To Be Me

      1. Every time I try to gaze at my navel, I get a crick in my neck and I go to sleep. It’s more fun to watch paint dry than to look at that weird hole in my belly.

          1. A guarantee that someone’s going to be too educated to be willing to learn the math and science behind consistently pulling a good espresso shot, or the art of customer relations and sales.

            1. To be fair, they’re wrong. Liberals are NOT obsessed with sex. They’re terrified people are having sex THE WRONG WAY. Sex must be classified, put in boxes and therefore strictly controlled. For Progressivism! You know what they are? PTerry’s Auditors. You know what they need? Some really good chocolate, or an uncomplicated orgasm.

              1. True. It is more about classification and doing everything but the purportedly traditional style of nookie. I was just struck by the plethora of letters and sub-categories.

              2. And bog help you if you are just doing it for fun, not to make a lifestyle statement or to resist oppression (unless it’s the right kind of “oppression.”)

                1. It must be the correct statement. “I give my all to you, my other half” is totally unacceptable, because it’s “unsafe.” (both in the Planned Parenthood meaning, and because….well, see yesterday’s post, where I commented about vulnerability being something they loath….)

                  1. I have seen with my own eyes a woman stating that it is ALWAYS wrong to engage in sexual intercourse without contraception. Yes, folks, fertility is always to be avoided.

                    1. Yes, nothing quite like the worst of waxy cheap chocolate to make one wax poetic… in the manner of an upset drill sergeant.

                      Although my mother assures me even that is still quite tasty compared to the chocolate she grew up eating, which was waxed to withstand the tropical sun. The kids would meet ships (especially tankers) coming down from Los Estados Unidos on the docks, waving money in their hands, trying to be the first to get the American Hershey bars as the crew pulled them from the freezers and traded them to the crowd. It was quite the game, indeed, to try to get the frozen chocolate, get the wrapper off, and eat it before it melted in her hands.

                  1. I’m not military, but back in the 1970s I had the “pleasure” of consuming rations that came in a gold can same size and shape as a can of Spam ™. This was an entire day’s allowance of food, in bars, with the exception of the coffee and flavoring that tasted like what’s put in boxes of yellow rice. For desert, you had either a little bar of fruitcake, or a chocolate bar. The latter was somewhere between dark chocolate and chewing tobacco. It could have put Ex-Lax ™ out of business.

                    I have eaten good chocolate, cheap chocolate, chocolate that got too hot and aged for an indeterminate time, chocolate with . . . you don’t want to know. To date, that bar was the worst chocolate I’ve ever eaten.

                    It did make you appreciate C rations.

                1. Well, obviously. showing that it’s possible to refrain is like getting a B+ from the racist professor that never gives blacks more than a C-; it gives away too much.

                  1. That’s why the labeling: if you don’t have sex you must be asexual, you don’t even want it. To want it and to refrain can not happen. But it can be fluid, to some extent, if a previous asexual starts to have regular sex and enjoys it she is no longer an asexual, she has changed. The main thing is to have the right label for every condition. 🙂

            2. Have you seen the TV commercial where the grandma starts talking about the kinks her and Grandpa used to get up to? We proles have to have our noses rubbed in it, don’t we?

                1. Or it could even have been made by some relatively normal people who were amused to yank the chains of the current version of prudes. Hey, grandparents, if it is stated in the commercial that they actually did also reproduce so some of that kinky stuff may have resulted in at least in one pregnancy…

      2. Well, duh. The success of one is a threat to the egos of all. A black college student once took a course from a professor despite the warning the man was racist and never gave a black better than a C-. He worked really hard and got a B+.

        The social atmosphere about him chilled noticeably.

        1. So we’ve devolved from Horatio Alger to this in a little over a hundred years. Good Lord those progressives are pernicious!

        1. If only. Could you imagine anything more dangerous than a concentration camp full of Americans? We’re bad enough all spread out, imagine what we would do in one place.

          1. “The ‘students’ are awful quiet tonight.”
            “Nice change, isn’t it?”
            “Um . . .”
            *sound of all Dade County breaking loose*
            TO BE CONTINUED . . .

            1. Hey, don’t forget LeBeau and Newkirk!

              (Btw, actor Robert Clary survived Auschwitz. A lot of the Hogan’s Heroes cast were Allied veterans and anti-Nazis. People don’t give it credit these days.)

              1. Correction: Clary survived Buchenwald. His relatives who were sent to Auschwitz didn’t survive. Some of his family managed not to get sent to camps, and they survived in France.

              2. Klemperer’s dad was targeted for assassination by the Nazis. They got out after a bomb planted under his podium failed to detonate. Klemperer never told his father about the role he played in the show, and required that Klink *never* come out on top.

                John Banner’s immediate family escaped before being shipped to the concentration camps. His extended family did not.

          2. I can’t imagine a concentration camp *full* of Americans. POW camp, yeah, it’s happened. Prison? Yeah.

            But I can’t imagine a government so powerful they can get a significant number of Americans in a camp without killing most of them.

          3. Have you ever heard of Sobibor?

            From Wikki:

            During a revolt of October 14, 1943, about 600 prisoners tried to escape; about half succeeded in crossing the fence, of whom around 50 evaded capture. Shortly after the revolt, the Germans closed the camp, bulldozed the earth and planted it over with pine trees to conceal its location.

    1. Tell the beginning writer that the reason their “masterpieces” aren’t received with glad cries is their sex/preference/color and they will latch on to that. It’s easier to resent than to admit your work has flaws. And it’s easier to scream in affront than to work at fixing those flaws.

      Yes! A thousand times yes! Stephen King had a nail on the wall where he began writing, and quickly filled it with rejection slips. You’ve told of the hamper full of rejections. We don’t attach photos when we send out manuscripts; most editors don’t know us. All they have before them is a story.

      It’s interesting that none of them have tried an experiment: Write under a pseudonym. If the issue is gender, a pseudonym will disguise it; as it will if the name somehow conveys race. None is needed for preference, for, bless their hearts, names don’t tell. Submit that manuscript with the “proper” name, and see if it sells. I don’t think they’ll be surprised when it doesn’t, because, deep down, I think they know they haven’t made a sale because their writing sucks.

      The one thing it does is to give them permission to fail “I could have been a writer, but they won’t publish a [insert chosen special class person here].” Then they can give themselves permission to stop trying, which I think they want all along, because, let’s face it, some of us aren’t able to take the knocks as well as others. and some of will never be that good, no matter how hard we try. Yet the fault in both cases lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.

      1. That’s the advantage of “diversity”. If you convince yourself that you think differently because of your checkboxes, you can convince yourself that they read it in your book.

  1. Turtle monitoring service, had a call about a couple of loose turtles?

    Just gonna duck under here and tighten ’em up, don’t mind me.

    1. Depending how far down the loose turtles are, mind the steps – I think the light is out in subbasement 247. I meant to get down there and replace it last night and forgot.

      1. No worries, brought my goggles.

        Something down here likes eating those curlie-que bulbs, so I just assume it’ll be stygian.

          1. Guess it really likes the touch of mercury for spice.

            Plus side: still no rats or rat analogues!

            1. Ah, no. The rats quarreled with the Union, and the Union won. Dark spaces and small places are where the Union lives now, warring with the cockroaches.

              Long since, the cats have stopped wondering where the rats went. Not that they are bothered by the lack, that is. There’s still plenty of good hunting and playing to be had all through the House of Many Corners. The new tenants don’t bother the cats, and the cats deem the Union more as mobile obstacle courses than anything else.

              For lights, might I suggest led lighting? Raw, you can get ’em cheap, around 7c each or less when in bulk, just need resistors and housing. The bulb eaters don’t like them much, and they don’t hurt the eyes for those of us sensitive to the other kind. There’s probably still some left in the West Pole end, if they’ve not been used up for Christmas tree lighting…

              1. LED’s could certainly work, but I’m good with my goggles. They’re a nice steampunk accessory to match my decidedly un-steampunk outfit!

                They make me feel dapper.

      1. It’s why this gig pays so well. There’s always a loose turtle, frequently a crooked turtle, and occasionally a tight turtle.

        And the stories I could tell of turtles running a bit slow…

          1. When you say “Holy hand grenades” my brain appends “Batman.”

            Without exclamation. Because it’s deadpan like that.

  2. I am sick to death of the term “microaggression”
    The world is an unending stream of microaggression. It’s called reality, and at times it can really suck.
    As you so correctly point out, how one deals with the oncoming stream of reality is the true mark of maturity or the lack thereof.
    What this just did is clarify in my mind the underlying motivation behind the horde of whiney SJW gits we currently have buzzing about pestering those of us with far far better things to do.
    See, the recent practice by some over indulgent parents of creating precious flowers is a training ground for professional victimhood. Their well established response to any sort of difficulty is to immediately go into poor poor pitiful me mode to get mommy and daddy to make it all better. Then they grow up, so to speak, at least cronologically, and what has always worked for them in the past suddenly doesn’t any more, or certainly not so consistently and dependently as they had come to expect.
    Unfortunately, knowing their motivation does not make them any less annoying, or offer any cure other than mocking them for their adolescent behavior. One could very well simply say “check your privilege and grow up fool!” but their attitudes are so deeply entrenched that I doubt it would make a dent. So, mocking is good. More fun too.

        1. Said something like that to a coworker, once. She complained to the boss. Who then fired her, because ‘caught on security camera trying to put a vacuum in your car’ didn’t equal ‘microagression’. THEN I got a warning to be ‘careful what I say’. Which was still less stupid than when they told us to stop calling shop vacs ‘wet-vacs’ because it sounded like something else.

                1. Stupidest part was, it was the Hispanics on the cleaning crew that had started calling them that, and none of them cared if it sounded like anything; they just wanted to keep people from using it for normal vacuuming so they said it was only for fluids. Afterwards newer employees broke the filters a lot more often.

            1. We have 5. They work about as well as you’d expect a wet-vac to work. Sorry for delays, I have very limited access to the internet.

  3. Ah yes. The dreaded “I can’t make it because you won’t let me” argument. I’ve heard that one a few times. In light of recent developments it’s pretty funny.

    I mean, I’ve mentioned the fact that many government agencies have questionnaires that need to be filled out to make sure that the agencies are working with woman- and minority-owned businesses. The fact of the matter is that those same businesses don’t even have to have competitive pricing either. This attitude makes me sick precisely because it is the exact opposite of true.

    Let’s face it: Everything in Western Society is currently tilted toward women and minorities at the moment. Scholarships, business opportunities, job availability, everything. What more do these people want?

    Listen, I’m sorry they still have to work for things. They need to suck it up. If it’s not worth working for it’s not worth having. They need stop whining about “It’s not all going my way” and push toward making their own luck. It’s not my job to make sure they succeed.

    1. What more do they want? They want white men to suffer. The fact that, despite all of the advantages they have in the system, men still work hard and do well infuriates them and “proves” that they system is rigged against them.

      They don’t want justice, they want revenge. The fact that they people they want to extract vengeance from are almost all dead simply makes them unhinged.

      1. Not to mention that they are not the victims of those people whom they want to extract vengeance from.

        1. These people want to be avengers, who are you to insist on such trivial things as facts standing in the way of that?

              1. The wyrm’s back arched and it’s wings extended slowly outward. His nose exuded smoke. His eyes glowed. Hard-edged scales shone, black on the head sides and wings. The red stomach and chest spasmed as the creature threw it’s serpentine head and neck into the air. “I smell DWAAAAAARF!!!!” it cried, the last word coming out in a gout of flame.

                Oops. Not quite what you meant, was it?

      2. “Justice” and “Revenge” are concepts – they also want Free Stuff. This obviously must be paid for via expropriation from others using the force of government. In that case, they actually don’t care who it’s expropriated from – whether through progressive tax schemes targeting “the rich” (which actually end up impacting the middle class) or regressive consumption tax schemes such as sales taxes, as long as they get their Free Stuff (Grants, Subsidies, Cheese, whatever) they are… well, I was going to say “content” but that’s wrong. “Mollified” maybe?

          1. Or until they are stuffed and resting and have the time to notice that others have more.

            Seriously, these are the sorts of people who insist that American poverty is serious, and when you point out that Americans live in the 70th percentile worldwide, will tell you that non-Americans are not our concern, that they are not in the social contract, etc.

            They get huffy if you point out that philosophy was tried out in the 20th century and got — ugly.

    2. . . . and then there’s the dodge of a rent-an-owner, where the wife of the de-facto owner is made 50.00001% owner of the enterprise, generally a spin-off of a big company, and now is a woman-owned small business.

      Add whatever additional qualifiers you want, but it’s a common practice in pencil-whipping “Small Disadvantaged Business” set-aside requirements. . .

      1. Ah yes the minority female veteran owned government contractor/reseller

        It’s not much different from the bribes and backhanders you have to pay to the purchasing bureaucrats in Eastern countries except that for some reason you bribe someone who isn’t the bureaucrat

        1. We have to buy a product from a instate supplier, if they exist. So for most of our equipment we have to get them from a guy who’s only business is to order stuff from the actual supplier, tack on 15% and forward it to us.

          1. You order through the Navy supply system?!

            (They had to hack all the computers on board to force Windows XP to run on the systems, because they were custom built below the minimum allowable stats. And they paid over ten bucks a gig for hard drives.)

    3. The problem with convincing them with your third paragraph is twofold: A. The SJWs are convinced that centuries of OPPRESSION by white men have tilted the playing field so far towards white men that affirmative action is the only way to overcome that.
      B. They believe in punishing children for the sins of their fathers, and rewarding children for the suffering of their mothers.
      These are their logical premises.

        1. Note that the term was not “reasonable.” Logic is perfectly capable of handling unreasonable statements. Like this logic puzzle.

          No ducks waltz.
          No officers ever decline to waltz.
          All my poultry are ducks.

          1. Ergo… none of my poultry are officers? 😀

            (If this is a famous thing, I’m afraid I’m not familiar with it… but I think I’m okay with that–there’s always a few.)

    4. Oh hell, there was one scholarship in college I couldn’t get because both of my parents got associate’s degrees…

      This was a year after my father died, and eleven years after my mother died. My father was rated as ‘permanently disabled’ in 1984…

      So whether or not my parents graduated from college had no financial impact on my ability to pay for school now did it?

  4. It’s not easy being anyone, true. But I think Superman has a valid reason to complain over the rest of us. He has super-hearing that allows him to hear cries for help from miles away. How many bad things happen in Metropolis every day? How many rapes, murders, assaults, or accidents take place within Clark’s exceptional hearing range? How many screams, cries, and prayers does he have to ignore? Every time we see Clark Kent he has made a conscious decision to allow some people to suffer. Even when Superman is saving the bus full of kids from falling off the bridge, there’s probably some woman getting beaten by her husband that he isn’t rescuing. How long could you put up with that, playing G-d and choosing who suffers and who is rescued, before some small part of you began to look forward to eating a bullet? No wonder the man’s refuge is the Fortress of Solitude.

    1. In one of his books, Chris Nuttall has a “Superman” clone who goes “bad” (in a way) because he can’t ignore cries of pain/suffering.

      He decides that he has to “solve the world’s problems” no matter what anybody else says.

      Of course, the “world’s problems” can’t be solved by super-strength.

      Note, Chris’s book, “Team Omega”, hasn’t yet been published.

      1. Sounds interesting. I’d like to see an exploration of the concept behind the bum montage in Groundhog Day.

      1. That was a good one. It pointed out how lonely and sad his life would be. All of his waking moments were spent saving people, with no time for himself.

        1. What about the time he spent conferring with colleagues (and keeping Green Lantern from provoking Batman)?

      1. Ugh… I know folks love that essay, but I can’t stand the “make assumptions and then smirk because things are horrible” tactic.

        It was probably a refreshing change… before I was born. 😦 Now it’s one of the most over-used things around.

        1. It was still funny when they used it in ‘Hancock’, at least to me. Maybe it was just seeing it instead of reading it. Plus the woman’s reaction when she realized what might have happened (Hancock was sober enough to push her away before releasing the load, which then shot through the roof of his trailer. No mention of possible after-effects. Maybe he shot blanks 🙂 Or maybe his swimmers would ignore normal women. It’s been a while, and I don’t remember if the superwoman in the story and her normal husband had kids).

          Rather flawed movie, did have its moments.

        2. I doubt if that was Niven’s purpose with that essay. I think he was more using it as a thought experiment, with some basic assumptions, and also trying to be somewhat humorous about it.

      2. Note: I’ve bent metal on accident. Haven’t even so much as bruised my husband, even when I was in labor.
        There’s a subconscious difference between “thing” and “person.”
        And that’s before we consider the difference between, ahem, involuntary reactions and accidental ones, or that the assumptions are flatly contradicted by there being super-babies in several of the “what if” comics, and there not being any issue with the theorized, uh, payload delivery from dreams. From what we know of Superman, he’d warn people if he randomly fired a shotgun while sleeping.

        1. Well, in the reboot of Justice League from the animated movie Justice League: War, he and Wonder Woman seemed to be hitting it off. Since she was as strong and tough as he was, it made sense…..

          And let’s not forget that in the Justice League cartoon TV show, Batman and Wonder Woman were an item, which would have been the same situation, only in reverse. She’d have been worse than the Bond villaness Ms Onatopp…..

    2. I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
      When far away an interrupted cry
      Came over houses from another street,

      Wasn’t easy being Robert Frost either.

      There was a neat scene in the last M. Night Shamalan movie worth watching, in which Bruce Willis must decide which crime victim to come to the aid of.

      1. Yes and No.

        Superman’s X-Ray vision is usually shown as something he choses to use while his “super-hearing” is always “on”.

        He can be tempted to see women sans clothing but can’t turn off his super-hearing. [Smile]

        1. I’m not sure his super-hearing is always on. I remember one of Byrne’s early issues were his powers were being selectively overloaded. When his hearing was turned on, he started hearing everything on the planet, as depicted by word balloons from the other DC comics being published that month. Mind you, that was three reboots ago . . .

        1. That reminds me of the British show “My Hero”. The main character “Thermo-man” loves looking at his wife’s internal organs. He especially thinks her kidneys are cute.

        1. “Check out the clavicles on that one!”


          “Next block, walking with the woman with the honkin’ Femurs.”

      2. Somebody did a (pre-Crisisl) crossover where Superman and Captain Marvel got their powers switched. At one point the Captain asks how someone with x-ray vision avoids becoming a peeping tom.

        “Same way you avoid saying–um, that word when you’re in a pool of lava.


    3. Remember the Season 1 Babylon 5 episode (Believers?) where Dr Franklin commented that since people expected him to have God-like abilities when it came to treating them? His comment was “If they want to hand me the responsibility, they can damn well hand me the authority too.”

      I can see pretty much anyone with actual super-powers getting to that point.

      1. Man, remember when TV and science fiction presented difficult social issues in an even-handed manner without preaching or propaganda?

        Maybe Superman’s real power was avoiding going full Ubermench.

    4. Yeah, I also think there’s room for some introspection and moments of doubt with the character. But I’d keep it down to a minimum, otherwise you end up with him moaning and whining all the time about how awful it is to be him. And that’s no fun to read.

      1. You have to see the characterization of Superman in the comic Future’s End. He dropped out of sight ( perhaps even RAGEQUIT), contemplated his navel for five years.and grew a beard.

            1. I don’t buy comics these days– and won’t until they can be bothered to tell stories again, consistently– just the “quit being a hero and grew a beard” thing was startlingly familiar, and I was curious which way was a possible influence.

  5. We need to reintroduce some concepts to the discussion of The Arts;

    Vulgarity; I don’t object to Piss Christ because it is anti-Christian. I object to it because it is vulgar.

    Lack of talent; Some people just don’t have the talent to do something. I, for instance, did not have the talent to be a cartoonist. My hand-eye coordination were not good enough to draw the same thing in two panels and make it look like the same thing. I practiced for years. I still mess around with it. My talent went so far, and no farther. This applies equally to some writers. No matter how much they produce, no matter how they try, what they produce is going to be drivel. Maybe they have another talent. And maybe if somebody would flat out tell them that their work is lifeless, they would find out what that talent is.

    Kipling did not have the talent for writing the Three Volume Novels so popular in his day. His attempts are dead, dull, and painful. He wrote with punch and concision. He could compress the vital matter of a Victorian Novel into 36 tightly written pages, and did, again and again. He did one hell of a lot to change the face of English Literature. And to his dying day he regretted never managing the kind of weighty verbose drama that he grew up reading.

        1. OOps I meant “The light that failed”, Life’s Handicap is a classic short story collection

              1. I’m actually not that big a fan (or I would have everything already). I’ll pick up and reread the classics (Just So, Jungle Books, Kim) but I’m not sure about the rest. About the only poetry I’ve ever liked is haiku and sonnets. Everything else just sounds like “wah wah wah” even Kipling’s.

      1. He mentions several ideas that “went dead under my hand” in SOMETHING OF MYSELF. Some, like PUCK OF POOK’S HILL he managed to revive with a different approach.

      2. At the moment, I’m reading “The Light that Failed.” If it were written by anyone else, I think it would have sunk into grey goo. As it is, it totters about the edge. (And I keep wondering, was Maisie supposed to be see to be in a homosexual relationship, or is that just the way a modern reader would tend to read it?)

        1. There’s a detective, Frank Abbot, in the Miss Silver books, will never marry, impeccably groomed. I always wonder if the author meant him to read gay, or if it’s modern eyes.

          1. “Dapper” used to be a manly heterosexual quality. Ask Harry Truman. Good grooming impresses the ladies. I believe that the football players and rappers are going back to the suit and tie dapper look again, and I rather enjoy it. Men who didn’t marry yet were dapper were pretty much assumed to be enjoying dating too much, or to be too busy with business.

            Of course, back then the stereotype was that homosexual men would dress in an eccentric, over-decorated way, not a dapper way.

            1. Yup. In classical Greece, the impeccably groomed man, especially if effeminate, was suspected of being excessively heterosexual — as in, an adulterer. (Courtesans and Fishcakes by James Davidson is quite good on it.)

        2. THE LIGHT THAT FAILED seems to be the book Kipling had to get out of his system. It is dreary, almost painful to read. Maturally, it is one of the fee things he wrote that the Intellectials like.

          They really are dependable that way. If they like something, it’s rubbish.

          There was a movie critic writing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer when I was growing up who,was like that. His review of STAR WARS was two weeks late, and praised it with faint damns. Rumor had it that he had turned in a pan, and his editor explained to him just how much career he would have left if it ran as submitted…..

          1. IIRC he wrote it in conjunction with a friend who died before they could finish it. Kipling finished the book (and married the friend’s sister out of a sense of duty to look after her.) So it might not have entirely been Kipling’s fault.

            1. Are you not confusing it with “The Naulahka” ? Which I admit I haven’t actually read

              1. It’s possible. It’s been a very long time since I studied Kipling’s novels. (And I was in college in Germany at the time, which means it has been a really, really long time.)

    1. The point on Kipling is well made. Sometimes it’s not the broad things we don’t have the talent to do but the approach to what we want to do. That is, rather than ‘don’t write again’ it’s ‘ok you’re good at X do more like that and expand from there.’ Half a step in one direction or another vs. the other side of the room (sometimes that may be necessary, but not always).

    2. He really, really, really liked them himself:

      The Three-Decker
      “The three-volume novel is extinct.”

      Full thirty foot she towered from waterline to rail.
      It took a watch to steer her, and a week to shorten sail;
      But, spite all modern notions, I’ve found her first and best –
      The only certain packet for the Islands of the Blest.

      Fair held the breeze behind us – ‘twas warm with lover’s prayers,
      We’d stolen wills for ballast and a crew of missing heirs.
      They shipped as Able Bastards till the Wicked Nurse confessed,
      And they worked the old three-decker to the Islands of the Blest.

      By ways no gaze could follow, a course unspoiled of Cook,
      Per Fancy, fleetest in man, our titled berths we took
      With maids of matchless beauty and parentage unguessed,
      And a Church of England parson for the Islands of the Blest.

      We asked no social questions – we pumped no hidden shame –
      We never talked obstetrics when the Little Stranger came:
      We left the Lord in Heaven, we left the fiends in Hell.
      We weren’t exactly Yussufs, but – Zuleika didn’t tell.

      No moral doubts assailed us, so when the port we neared,
      The villain had his flogging at the gangway, and we cheered.
      ‘Twas fiddle in the foc’s’le – ‘twas garlands on the mast,
      For every one was married, and I went at shore at last.

      I left ‘em all in couples a-kissing on the decks.
      I left the lovers loving and parents signing cheques.
      In endless English comfort, by county-folk caressed,
      I left the old three-decker at the Islands of the Blest! . . .

      That route is barred to steamers: you’ll never lift again
      Our purple-painted headlands or the lordly keeps of Spain.
      They’re just beyond your skyline, howe’er so far you cruise,
      In a ram-you-damn-you liner with a brace of bucking screws.

      Swing round your aching searchlight – ‘twill show no haven’s peace.
      Ay, blow your shrieking sirens at the deaf, grey-bearded seas!
      Boom our the dripping oil-bags to skin the deep’s unrest –
      And you aren’t one knot the nearer to the Islands of the Blest.

      But when you’re threshing, crippled, with broken bridge and rail,
      At a drogue of dead convictions to hold you head to gale,
      Calm as the Flying Dutchman, from truck to taffrail dressed,
      You’ll see the old three-decker for the Islands of the Blest.

      You’ll see her tiering canvas in sheeted silver spread;
      You’ll hear the long-drawn thunder ‘neath her leaping figure-head;
      While far, so far above you, her tall poop-lanterns shine
      Unvexed by wind or weather like the candles round a shrine!

      Hull down – hull down and under – she dwindles to a speck,
      With noise of pleasant music and dancing on her deck.
      All’s well – all’s well aboard her – she’s left you far behind,
      With a scent of old-world roses through the fog that ties you blind.

      Her crews are babes or madmen? Her port is all to make?
      You’re manned by Truth and Science, and you steam for steaming’s sake?
      Well, tinker up your engines – you know your business best –
      She’s taking tired people to the Islands of the Blest!

    3. Borges wrote five page novels. Probably had something to do with his blindness, wanting to keep the whole thing in his mind.

    4. In my youth the hey-day of the cultural left was if full swing with hippies, love-ins and all the other bizarreness. While by youthful inexperience was attracted to some of the promises of the left, ultimately the vulgarity of the people involved turned me off to the whole movement.

      1. That means you used your eyes AND your brain, which puts you two steps ahead of the eye-rolling instigator crowd.

  6. Tell the beginning writer that the reason their “masterpieces” aren’t received with glad cries is their sex/preference/color and they will latch on to that. It’s easier to resent than to admit your work has flaws. And it’s easier to scream in affront than to work at fixing those flaws.

    That’s because humans are notoriously self centered. We think what we do is amazing, on the whole (and yes, writers are often the exception rather than the rule). They want things to be someone else’s fault, because that means they don’t have to accept responsibility for their own failings. Narcissism is far more common than most people realize.

    These arguments of racism or other -isms simply provide an outlet, a target that the narcissistic person can focus on rather than possibly figure out that they need help for their personality disorder.

    1. Doesn’t plain old-fashioned laziness have a role to play here as well? If I did it, and it’s not right, then I need to get off my lazy buns and fix it. If it fails due to some external problem, then I did my best, that’s just too bad. Of course, a case could be made that I should have had enough foresight to anticipate external problems, but that is another discussion.

  7. Modern education, to achieve its (stated, BTW) goal of making its victims into easily-managed sheep, does two things: 1) leave its products as utterly ignorant as possible; 2) convince them that they stand at the apex of human enlightenment and virtue. And, amazingly, it very often succeeds! Together, those two outcomes effectively inoculate against ever learning anything – if you don’t already know it, it must not have any value, as if it did, then you’d be ignorant – but you stand at the apex of enlightenment and virtue! Therefore, etc. This is not hypothetical – try having a discussion about, say, history or the scientific method with any college graduate – the more degrees, the better – and see if this isn’t what it boils down to.

    Now imagine any of these super-special snowflakes decides they are an artist – not that they’d like to become an artist (see: above) but that they ARE an artist. Only a meanie, someone certainly less enlightened and virtuous than I, would point out FLAWS or SHORTCOMINGS in my art, which, like me, is practically perfect in every way. That nobody buys and reads my stories must mean that the world is full of stupid, vicious meanies. The government must bring these meanies to heel! For *everybody’s* good! NOW!

  8. What!? I’ll have you know that I am very special; my Mommy told me so!
    I’m going to go sulk in the closet!
    Wait…this isn’t a closet. And what’s that bubbling in the back?

    1. Yeah, we back up “You’re special” with Spiderman “‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ You’re awesome, so get out there and get on with it already! Stop pouting and get going!”

      1. *takes notes* My son’s not old enough yet to need that so I’m collecting for when his communication skills get to ‘English’. If he’s half as ornery as my fiance and I are we’ll need every trick we can get.

        1. I didn’t say it *works*. We’re in the ‘whiny preteen woe is me my life is so hard because I have to do my school work or I can’t play on the computer’ stage. Which grates like fingernails on a chalkboard. Privileged first-world modern kids!
          But we do have hopes that it’ll sink in eventually. When they grow up a bit more.
          And he just came down whining that he has to do a whole set of Algebra. Gah! 35 math problems. Baby’s asleep, time to go deal with this one.

    2. That boiling pot? That’s where we’re rendering the glue for the next publication run…won’t you come in and sit for a while? I’m sure we have some cookies or cake you’d enjoy…

        1. Yeah, with that one it’s easier to just seal the room, cut it out, and ship it to Yucca Mountain.

          1. Even though it then goes and regenerates.

            or perhaps shifts back in time until before it was a problem. Hard to tell.

          2. I saw the Godzilla documentary: Yucca Mountain sucks at keeping things in that want to get out.

            Fedex it to Cthulhu.

            1. UPS. Those Commies at Fedex won’t even ship a CNC mill, just because it might be used to finish an AR receiver.

              1. Frankly, I think someone ought to sue them to force them to take iit, and the argument should go something like this: “If the power of the state can compel service from a florist or baker to provide service in the name of a right not mentioned in the Constitution, then how much further should it go to support one explicitly mentioned? And before you argue that a CNC mill is not essential to the Second Amendment, I want to remind you that neither flowers or cakes are essential to a wedding or a marriage.”

                1. Personally, I think organizing a boycott would work better. Lawsuits drag on forever, and the outcome is never certain. Surely losing a good chunk of gun related business should get their attention.

                  1. I want the lawsuit because it’s basically a win-win: if FedEx has to take it, it will provide a handy clue hammer to liberals of using their own rules and what that whole equal treatment under the laws really means.

                    If it loses it will provide a handy clue hammer to drive home to conservatives, particularly the gun-owning segment, that the only hope they have of getting justice is to force equal treatment with the cartridge box, since soap, ballot, and jury boxes aren’t worth much under the current Calvinball Constitution.

            2. It was the Gojira Incident that led them to contract us to redesign the containment mechanisms. Trust me, nothing can get out of there.

              Why are you looking at me like that?

        1. I don’t know, it’s done wonders for the interior design around here. Then again, I was always partial to red.

  9. My son’s school backs up to a park; a number of parents forego the horrors of picking up their kids in front of the school and pick them up from the park instead. Some parents let their kids play for half an hour or more before picking them up. I generally stop at the park with my kids for a goodly while after school on nice days because it’s easy to get some of their energy out.

    While they’re on the playground, I sometimes end up in conversation with some of the sixth graders. It’s particularly fun to illuminate their blind spots (and I don’t blame them for having them; most kids don’t get a sense of the wider world until they’re in middle school.) Yesterday, one of them said he wanted to be a game designer. I told him to start now, because everything takes practice and if he got the bad stuff out now, he’d do better later. I don’t think it had ever occurred to him that he didn’t have to wait, and he immediately started talking about a life goals-based game that he wanted to do. I kept throwing in bits of knowledge, and then, curious, I asked him what he thought the houses across the street cost. “Um… I don’t know… five thousand?” I laughed and told him that they’d be in the $250K-$300 range (we’re in California, so that’s not too impressive) but if we were in Los Gatos, they’d be $800K or more. And in some states, they could be $80K (I did *not* bring up Detroit.)

    I may have given him a new appreciation for how complicated it is to be an adult.

  10. Cute as Los Gatos is, I’m glad I don’t actually live in town. There’s too many over indulged children walking around in adult bodies expecting everyone else to immediately recognize their inherent perfection.

    1. Even more as you head up to San Francisco. I’d sacrifice the few friends I have there for a swift cleansing fire there and in Oakland/Berkeley. Ideally on a day when certain SJWers are protesting certain congress-critters

    2. Aside from the fact that who can AFFORD it? I’ve boggled at the housing prices from time to time. (We have some friends who have a relative in a convent of nuns. They had a chapter house there that they recently sold in order to pay for care for their elderly population. I can imagine they made a MINT from that particular sale—just up the hill, walking distance from downtown. I think they kept the retreat house, though.)

      1. If you started, say, 35 years ago up there, you might do fairly well, depending on how much you spent keeping up the property over the years.

        And which exact neighborhood you happened to be situated in. All in all, it’s not an area in which to expect to retire, but it might be a good way to get set up for retirement somewhere else.

    3. Yeah, try over the hill in Santa Cruz. Los Gatos looks conservative in comparison to the home of “The One UC Campus That’s Weirder Than Berkeley.”

    4. Los Gatos *is* adorable, I’ll grant you…If we could just transplant it to some part of the country that has more sane people (and lower property prices) it would be awesome… 😀

  11. P.S. That song is what is known around here as “whiner rock.” One can only hope that the bands look back on those songs with embarrassment.

  12. Things they worry about. The following was found on a weird news site: Swedish public broadcaster SVT, capitalizing on the country’s supposedly liberal sexuality to promote an upcoming children’s series on the human body, produced a one-minute cartoon featuring genitals singing and dancing. However, the SVT program director admitted in January that there was criticism — not for salaciousness, but because the penis was portrayed with a moustache and the vagina with long eyelashes, which some critics said unfortunately “reinforced gender stereotypes.”

    1. You know, I’m not really surprised by this kind of crap anymore.
      Appalled, yes, but not surprised.
      Is that sad? Or just evidence of a realistic view of the world?

      1. I thought of it as an example of the extreme silliness the SJW crowd looks for, when THEY want things to worry about. Modern day version of “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.”

        1. Angels are spirits and therefore immaterial.
          Only a material substance can occupy space.
          Only things that occupy space can exclude, or be excluded, from a stretch of space.
          Therefore — an infinite number of angels can fit on the head of a pin.

          Notice that it doesn’t matter whether there are that many angels, or even any angels at all.

          It was, in fact, an exercise in learning to make correct distinctions.

        2. Interesting tidbit: the “angels on a head of a pin” was a parody of the Catholic practice of applying– gasp!– logic to theology.
          It’s more annoying than painful, though, because it’s all too easy to picture some saint giving the guy the fish-eye and going “Angels don’t have physical bodies, generally speaking.” Being a saint, he’d probably manage to avoid the “idiot” part…. (I’m pretty sure that church doctor who told the pope he was wrong didn’t call him an idiot when she did, anyways; I haven’t actually read the stuff.)

          1. I’ve also seen it used in reference to the debates going on while Islam was taking over Constantinople.

      1. That would be a pretty uncomfortable mutation for the owner of that vagina. Having a mustache on a penis presumably too. Probably would need to shave it regularly, or find a woman who is pretty weird with her tastes. 😀

      1. Vagina Dentata, what a wonderful phrase
        Vagina Dentata, ain’t no passing craze
        It means no sex for the rest of your days
        It’s our problem free philosophy, Vagina Dentata
        (Not my fault. My older son once sang this when we were discussing the legend.)

        1. Julian May in her Exile Saga had the female Firvulag having Vagina Dentata. [Very Big Evil Grin]

  13. Sorry I’ve been out and lurking for the last while, life over the last week or so has become suddenly very “interesting” (in the Chinese curse sense of things), and a little overwhelming. It’s nice to poke my head in here every now and then and see the back and forth, and I’m sure I’ll be more active here in the future, but it’ll be a couple weeks yet at least.

        1. Shouldn’t that be “Par-tay! Par-tay!…”

          Ah, never-mind, I’ll go up the tally on the beverage order. Somebody get a salsa count. We going with mammoth again, or do we want to try some rotisserie T-Rex?

            1. Good point. Nobody wants a peckish dragon.

              I’ll crank up the big freezer and order two of both. We never seem to keep leftovers long, somebody always makes a timely fridge raid.

              1. That would be Fluffy. (the dragon)

                look, when six tons of snarling, fire breathing winged carnivore orders a giant pink collar off Etsy that says Fluffy, you just go with it, ok?

                  1. I think, after Sarah discovered how the English made oxblood pink paint (sometimes called Sussex Pink), she issued a blanket veto on pink-ish walls. She’s worried about Fluffy trying to lick it off the sheetrock or something. That and where we’d source the raw materials.

                    It’s strange. The more I said, “Don’t worry Sarah, we’ll take care of everything including the cleanup,” the more worried she looked.

                    1. Well, I don’t particularly like Jean Dechausse, but honestly bleeding him to death MIGHT be against the law. It would at least get us a restraining order from the SPCA. Again.

  14. No, the neighbors haven’t had me committed yet, but that’s because we’ve been living downtown and I used to go to the store in whatever I was wearing for writing, (not pajamas. I draw the line at pajamas) so they probably thought I was homeless and were afraid I’d kill them.

    *sigh* I had to break this….. although I did buy a new pair of PJs for it, so they’re very nice. The PJs are no more ugly than the maternity clothes, and they cost $10 for both instead of $25 bucks for just a pair of really ugly pants that look like someone said “Yoga pants. You know what those need? Bell bottoms!”

    Blooping sadists. I’m pregnant. I do not want to show off my multiplying curves.

    1. OMG yes. Much maternity clothing is designed by people who think that all pregnant women come in “little & cute” style. When I went looking when I was pregnant with my first, the maternity stores all had miniskirt styles. Um… no. (My pregnancy comedy routine was limited to five minutes, so I cut the whole section on clothing.)

      1. My poor, stylish sister couldn’t believe I couldn’t find something nice.

        Took me shopping for some “cute” maternity dresses.

        Even she couldn’t find something nice to say about how I look in them….

        1. On that memorable first trip I saw a XL pair of shiny black stretch pants with metallic thread. Someone ought to tell that poor designer that most women who are having to be larger than their normal sizes do NOT want something like that.

  15. That it’s up to you to do something nice for THEM, to bring unexpected joy to their lives, because they work so hard and they love you. And the same with your friends.

    *sad* And sometimes, for not-friends. And you keep burning yourself up giving, and giving, and giving to those who only take, and giving less to those who give to you, because they have enough to share so they must be OK…..

    And you can’t figure out why you’re always getting used.

    (No, not me. A couple of people I love, who drain the family and true friends, and collect leaches like it’s going out of style. And never figure out the difference between those who are always going to “need” things, and those who split the only food they have with you without even mentioning it.)

  16. I’ve always understood the song to be about fatherhood–the narrator feels a responsibility to be Superman to his children and is worried he’s not good enough. Looked at from that perspective, it’s not whiny at all.

  17. I love the broader point that you make, Sarah, but I have to second uclaw here about this particular song. The video for this song, for example, opens with a shot of a woman and an infant, presumably his family, then follows the singer through scenes of parties and nightlife, only to end with the singer lying down in bed next to the woman and the infant — passing up the “good life”, accepting responsibility, and settling down.

    I also think the lyrics lend themselves to a more charitable interpretation. Yes, it repeats the line “It’s not easy being me” but when a 12 year old says that, it is typically accompanied by a plea for some kind of accommodation. ‘You can’t make me do my homework/chores/etc….don’t you know how hard my life is?’ The singer makes no such pleas. He only asks forgiveness for failing sometimes and for dreaming about something different. What parent hasn’t done both?

    Mostly I think the song is about accepting that life isn’t easy and trying anyway (“I’m just out to find, the better part of me” . . . “Looking for special things inside of me.”) And isn’t that what men are supposed to do?

  18. I respect your opinion as to the song’s merits, and I am not trying to change it. I merely offer that perhaps you judged the song’s intentions unfairly.

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